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84-year-old runner says, ‘age is just a number’

Updated: Thursday, May 8 2014, 06:12 PM EDT

Pounding the pavement.

For 84-year-old Ella Jane Custer age is just a number and running is something she does almost every day.

Sunday she was one of 30,000 people to take on Pittsburgh -- at the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

She took home fourth place in the age group below her.

"I thought there'd be an 80 and over, but there was only 70 and over and I got fourth place," said Custer. "I was thrilled and my friends with me said that when I came across finish line it was like I didn't even run a race, but it was easy."

Easy for Custer because she's done more than 250 races. Many of them she ran with her late husband.

Custer is a survivor. She's overcome breast cancer, ovarian cancer and melanoma. She says it's a health benefit to run.

"You just have to take the time, but the benefits are wonderful and the friends you meet are wonderful," said Custer. "It kept me going when my husband has passed away."

Custer started running early in life and she remembers protesting in St. Clairsville for the right to participate in a race.

She was the first woman to join the Wheeling YMCA and says she's not sure why she took up the sport.

"I really don't know why I started, but I was wearing a size 16 dress and I think that had something to do with it," said Custer. "Back when there was no running clothes and no running shoes."

Custer says she rarely hangs out with anyone her age and belongs to the Ohio Valley Runners and Walkers Club.

She says she likes to talk throughout the race and meeting new people keeps her young.

"I have a pile of T-shirts and I have wonderful friends and you just pick up more every place you go," said Custer.

Custer plans to run the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic in May.

84-year-old runner says, ‘age is just a number’

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